My fam-jam left our home in Nanaimo, BC in late December, and have been nestled in the small mountain town of Nelson, BC for two weeks. I’ve been thinking about what we left behind, and what we have here. Some things are the same, and a lot of things are different. It’s been a very large perspective shift with moving to a town a tenth of the size of Nanaimo, my husband no longer working, our son being homeschooled, and the opportunity to do whatever we want most days but also mixed in with things we have to do.
Back in Nanaimo, my husband, Brian, was at the office eight hours a day, and our son, Ira, was at school for more than half of that time. You know what that means? MAMA SOLO TIME. I’m fairly certain I’m not the only Mama out there who craves and savours solo time, no matter how much we also love time with our family. Because of the freedom of space and time in the mornings, I had created some gorgeously nourishing daily rituals.
Each weekday for the past three years, I would drop Ira off at school and head into the forested trails of Linley Valley with my dog, Wanaka. We’d hike along the undulating, narrow paths, where I’d pause often to take pictures of the landscape, which varied from rocky bluffs to airy arbutus tree orchards to shaded corridors of ancient cedar trees, ferns and multiple and colourful varieties of moss and fungi.
We’d walk through Smurf Village, where someone, a while back, left a handful of plastic Smurf characters, hidden and nestled in places along the forest floor and in the trees. It’s fun walking through there because people keep moving the Smurfs to new places, creating new scenes to imagine unfolding between the characters.
At various points along our hike, Wanaka and I would stop to share brief conversations with the other folks I call ‘the regulars’ (and their dogs) partaking in their own morning hike ritual around the same time we used to. I’ll refer to these folks in present tense as I expect they can still be found on the trails today, if you were to venture there. The two lovely retired women, friends wearing colourful galoshes and sporting trekking poles as they gently hike along, smiling and chatting, with their lap-sized dogs leading the way. The elusive and engaging fellow who is always, always wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, with the oversized, grey hood covering his head, giving him the appearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I actually think the Force might be with him. There’s Well-Dressed Dude, who appears to appreciate the quality of Arc’Teryx clothing as much as I do, and always walks before work each day without his three dogs (his wife takes them later in the day), but takes the dogs on the trails with him every weekend. We occasionally bump into a tall guy and his huge, fluffy dog Dill, who, if un-leashed, prefers to leave the trail with people he didn’t arrive with. And the warm and lovable fellow, and his recently deceased, massively warm-hearted Saint Bernese (blend of Saint Bernard and Bernese Mountain dog), Ripley, who used to pause to slurp muddy water from one particular puddle for what seemed like more than humanly (or dogly) possible. Each time Wanaka and I would pass that muddy watering hole, which is named, ‘Ripley’s Puddle’, I would send out a little love to Ripley and his human.
After our daily forest dose, Wanaka and I would stop at Departure Bay Beach so I could dip into the cold, Pacific Ocean. Wanaka would stay in the car and bark at me, yelling, “PLEASE STAY SAFE!! THE OCEAN IS DANGEROUS!! MY FRIEND HELEN SAYS THERE ARE MONSTERS IN THERE!!!” Or, it’s also possible she’s saying, “I WANT TO SWIM TOO!! ONLY IF YOU THROW A STICK!! I SEE A STICK!!!” In any case, I was never in the water long, typically less than two or three minutes. I’d take off my warm clothes, revealing my swim suit, and walk out past the shallower water, into the place where I submerged to my belly button. I’d stand there and take in the expansive scene and sounds of waves and gulls and eagles and islands and clouds or sunshine or rain, or occasionally snow. Then I’d dip down to cover my shoulders for a short spell before walking back out. At some point during my daily dip, I’d usually be accompanied by the loving and hearty yell from Peggy, the retired school teacher walking the length of the beach up to 10,000 steps each day, “HI DEEEEEE! YOU HAVE A GREAT DAY!!! AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!!” If she meant ‘take care of yourself’ to be ‘go home, warm up, have a second coffee and sit in front of the fire with Wanaka by my side before I start work’, then I had it dialed.
Fast forward to our days in Nelson, BC, and my morning routines look quite different. As in, there are no routines, really, except Brian doesn’t go to work, Ira doesn’t go to school, and I don’t go to Linley. There’s no ocean. There’s a big, cold lake, but I haven’t braved it yet. There’s no fireplace. Thank gawd we have coffee. But truly, we are still finding our ‘sea legs’ even though we are more than 700 kilometres away from the sea’s edge, our home on Vancouver Island. The mornings here unfold with less ritual (except, did I mention we still have great coffee?). It’s more of a ‘what’s happening today’ kind of feel. Over breakfast, we loosely chat about our day:
Do we need more groceries?
Are we low on coffee beans?
What’s for dinner?
You guys want to go skiing today?
Who needs clean underwear?
I’d like to go for a walk sometime today, you guys want to join me?
Let’s play Yahtzee!
Don’t get me wrong, our days are not shit. What’s here for us to connect with in Nelson is amazing, on so many levels. And I’m super grateful for this adventurous opportunity we are able to choose for our family. This is just a transition time for me, and my fam. And I’d like to create some new morning routines that help me settle into my days here involving work and play and homeschooling, before we pick up and leave for the next place. BTW, estimated time of departure from Nelson: not until the end of March. Phew!
As I reflect on this idea of morning routines, while sitting in front of my computer at my new desk, looking out the window at the row of colourful, century-old houses squished impossibly close to each other, it feels like I’ve dropped the ball on all my old, nourishing routines. Wanaka would agree, and she’s tossing in a request for more ball time, pun intended. I realize how helpful my old rituals were to my daily wellbeing, and how easy it was to do them because I simply did them every day. It wasn’t part of the morning planning process. It just was. I guess that’s one of the true benefits of deeply ingrained, desirable habits.
So, how do I bring some of what was into what is?
Small problem: one of my gifts in this life is that I can easily get sucked into the present, focussed moment and magically forget what was before (or what else is happening around me – just ask my husband who knows first hand what it’s like to be on the outside of my focussed attention — sorry, hun!). Apply this gift of ‘focussed presence’ to our days here transplanted in the Kootenays, and it means since we landed here, I have forgotten everything I used to do and have ended up trying really hard (the hard way) to settle myself in the new. It’s sorta like starting from scratch. Deep down, I know this isn’t necessary, and that there surely must be another way.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know one of the keys I use to help myself in any situation is to ask my intuition/Spirit what to do. I know Spirit has a wise invitation for helping me create new or recreate old morning routines in this new space. I’m getting tired of repeatedly feeling like I’m only responding to what’s in front of me, instead of taking a hand at creating what I need. That last sentence feels incredibly important, like when I get the shivers while I’m working with a client, which means THIS IS SIGNIFICANT, PAY ATTENTION.
Part of the solution was for Spirit to invite me to sit here this morning, on this overcast Sunday morning, and write all this down so I can see what’s happening with a bit more clarity. Thank you, Spirit. I see the value in this!
I ask, “Are there any nuggets of wisdom here for me?”
Spirit responds with, ‘Balance and compromise.’ I’m interpreting this as an invitation to bring some of the old into the new, and also let the new show me some things I’d never have done in the old. That sounds like a bit of a tongue twister, but I will give it a go.
I continue, “Any tangible, intuitively-inspired actions I can take?”
I see the response in my mind’s eye playing out like a movie: First coffee (yay!), then journaling (five-minutes at least), some kind of movement (either a walk outside, or yoga-like movements indoors), and sit for five minutes (kinda like meditation, but sometimes it’s more of an intuitive conversation and body-connection).
When I take another look at this new morning routine list, I’m noticing there’s not much that’s the same about this list when I compare it to what I did in Nanaimo, except the potential for a walk outside. Spirit chimes in, ‘Yes, but this is a good place to begin. Your new routine will grow into what it needs to be. You need to do this for a week to be able to see and experience what comes next.’
You know what I love most about working with clients and offering them channeled wisdom and tangible, intuitively-inspired action steps from Spirit? When they follow through and reap the benefits (and then share the awesome outcomes with me). It’s my turn! I’ll report back here on my blog with some progress, and what surprising twists happen to my morning routine as I move through it this week.